Every spring as the school year began to wind down, I began to gear up for summer school, or Extended School Year (ESY), which is specifically for students with special needs. Sometimes my teacher friends questioned my sanity for signing up for ESY in special education every summer, but I truly enjoyed it! ESY was the perfect opportunity for students to work on their academic and social/emotional/behavioral skills based on the needs outlined on their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) in a small, laid-back summertime setting.
Please allow me to take you through a typical summer school/ESY morning.
- 8:00: Buses/Students Arrive
- 8:15: Morning Meeting
- 8:45: Academic Rotation 1
- 9:30: Academic Rotation 2
- 10:15: Outside Break
- 10:45: Snack
- 11:00: Academic Rotation 3
- 11:45: Clean-Up/Closing
- 12:00: Buses/Students Depart
Morning meeting consisted of a greeting and a brief share time. We used a beach ball to pass around the circle to remind everyone of who’s turn it was to talk. Next, we played a game to help students get to know each other and to learn names. Check out this website for a comprehensive list of activities. My students especially enjoyed “Grandmothers Trunk” and “A Warm Wind Blows.” Finally, news/announcements for the day were made and we reviewed the schedule, along with our classroom expectations. Surprisingly, we had very few behavioral issues during ESY, possibly due to our clear expectations and consequences, which the students helped to establish on day one. Overall, the students seemed happy to be there.
The academic rotations involved students working on any academic needs outlined on their IEPs. To keep groups small and individualized, students were broken into three groups and rotated to three different academic stations throughout the morning. I was always fortunate to have at least two para professionals/assistants to work with to manage groups and provide additional supervision. One of the academic stations involved computer time where students would work on math and reading skills.
Our favorite computer programs included:
- https://www.ixl.com/ (math, language arts, science, social studies)
- https://www.raz-kids.com/ (reading-not a free program, but worth every dollar!)
- http://www.coolmath.com/ (math)
- http://pbskids.org (games, stories, and videos)
After all our hard work, it was time for an outside break (the highlight of the morning)! We began with a whole-group organized game, such as kickball, 4-Square, etc. This list gives several other fun game suggestions such as: “Silly Soccer” and “Blob Tag”, which were also big hits among my students. Students were then given the choice to continue playing the organized game or to have free time on the playground (students often chose to continue playing the organized game).
Around 10:00, everyone was ready for a snack. Students brought their own snacks, but we had extra crackers and fruit on hand to make sure nobody would go hungry.
While a big focus of our time was on academics, students were also provided with many authentic opportunities to work on social, emotional, and behavioral skills during our ESY sessions. I was surprised to learn how many of my students didn’t know the rules to basic games such as kickball. When students returned to school in the fall, they had the confidence and skills to join kickball and 4-Square games with their peers during recess, instead of wandering around the playground by themselves. One parent shared that her son was so much happier about going outside for recess, and about school in general, after learning how to play kickball at ESY. Who would’ve thought teaching a child how to play kickball could be so impactful and so rewarding?
Whether you’re gearing up for teaching summer school or not, we wish you a fabulous summer-you’ve earned it! Congratulations on wrapping up another school year!